During my 39 year flying career, there were many Christmas eve's spent on airplanes! And many a story I could tell of my experiences during those Holidays! This "True" story is just one of the many.
Back in the day- or "Once upon a time", There existed a regional carrier called North Central Airlines. I became a Stewardess for this company. Most of our flights during that time were throughout the midwest. I often flew on the Covair 580 turbo prop aircraft. It held 48 passengers, one Stewardess, and two pilots.
On this particular Christmas Eve I was flying this aircraft from Detroit Metro to Traverse City, Michigan, then continuing on to Pellston, Michigan, and finally on to Sault Saint Marie, Michigan, where we were to overnight. Everything went as normal on our flight to Traverse City and on to Pellston.
Leaving Pellston, we still had 25 passengers on board, most which were Military personnel and Military families. They were heading back to the Kincheloe Army and Air Force base. It was late at night, going on midnight. People were obviously tired. Once we took off out of Pellston heading to Sault Saint Marie, the Captain came on the P.A. and told us all to look out the windows. There was the most breathtaking display of Northern lights I had ever seen! He explained a bit of how and why the Northern lights would suddenly appear.
Then the Captain became a bit poetic, stating that he missed the Christmas caroling he did every Christmas eve with his family. He asked me to turn off the cabin lights so we could enjoy the Northern lights, then asked the passengers to join him in singing "Silent Night". As his beautiful baritone voice came over the P.A., the hair stood up on my arms. His voice was like something out of a wonderful opera! I joined in at "Holy Night, all is come..", though it was probably pretty shaky, since I had a lump in my throat. Soon all the passengers were singing. I couldn't believe the wonderful sound! How beautiful! Their voices blended in perfect harmony!
At the end of the song the Captain thanked us all for joining him in song. After a moment of quiet, a soldier started to sing "Oh Holy Night.."! Again, the passengers joined in, and then the Captain, hearing them, also sang. Next song came from a woman who probably was in her 80's. Her voice, though a bit shaky, was true and lovely. She started "Oh Christmas tree..". Again, after the song there was quiet.
A child's voice started singing "Frosty the Snow Man..", with everyone smiling now joining in song with energy and gusto, happy to hear the little one joining in! As we started our decent into Sault Saint Marie, another soldier started to sing "I'll Be Home For Christmas.." The cabin became quiet again, as this rather sad song took hold. Then a beautiful bass voice at the back sang "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.." which again raised the mood.
And then one more song came from four soldiers at the very back of the aircraft. They sang in perfect harmony "Do you hear what I hear.." It was obvious that they had sung together many times. Chills ran up my spine. I felt like I was in a dream! What a wonderful way to spend Christmas eve! My eyes filled with tears of pure joy! (Yes, I'm a softy, always have been!) I was in, and a part of a very private and beautiful Christmas concert! There were many a glistening eye on that aircraft that night. Happy tears, people touched by the comraderie of the group!
Afterwards, I quietly made my landing announcement and sat down, thinking how lucky, even blessed I was to have such a beautiful experience- and to have such a wonderful occupation!
After landing, as we opened the door for the passengers to deplane, both the Captain and First Officer got out of their seats and stood to say goodbye. There were handshakes, even hugs from those passengers as we said goodbye and wished them a Merry Christmas. Last to deplane was the elderly lady who had sung "Oh Christmas Tree..". She hugged the Captain for a long moment and thanked him for his gift of song. She said that this flight served to remind her that we were all one family, and we were really never alone, we all belonged to each other.
I've had many wonderful experiences sharing the Holidays with my passengers! But I can never hear these lovely Christmas songs without remembering that one short flight filled with Northern lights and fantastic music!
No matter where you are, or what your circumstances are this Holiday, look for moments of unexpected harmony, beauty, and humanity at it's best. Blessings!